Incorporating Wood Creates Organic-Feeling Design

Wood is a popular choice for interior design and it can be used in all kinds of places: cabinetry, flooring, furnishings, art, and wall coverings. But wood comes in more than one shade, in fact varying in all types of textures, colors, and price ranges. If you plan on using wood as part of your interiors, you’ll need to make some decisions about what type of wood you prefer.

These days, woods with softer tones, reminiscent of the pine craze of the 1990s, are making a comeback in popularity. They tend to feel more natural than the heavy, dark tones and come from trees and forests that are more eco-friendly. Oliver Stallwood, an interior design contributor for, said, “Dark woods such as mahogany have featured heavily in our homes for some time, but this year, bright, caramel, and honey tones are set to step into the spotlight.”

Wood left in a more natural state creates an organic feel which will also help lighten up your home after the long, dark winter and assist in creating more of an open concept feel without the heavy labor of knocking down walls. Interior design firm Intarya’s managing director, Daniel Kostiuc, explained that “honey-toned woods such as pine, chestnut, oak, and cherry are especially ideal for smaller spaces as they help to create an open, spacious feel.”

He also said that color schemes featuring crisp white or pastel shades will complement your wood furnishings or flooring. Look for soft tones of lilac, pink, and powdery blue, all of which are set to be trending this spring.

To help homeowners who aren’t sure where to start with incorporating wood into their design, Stallwood came up with a few suggestions. For instance, a statement wood writing desk with matching wood chair don’t have to be heavy or imposing. Stallwood found a desk with open sides, a thin top, and a wood chair with delicate steel legs. If you’re looking for a vintage or countryside estate feel, he suggests pine floors. He explained, “One of the best ways to transform a room is getting the flooring right.”

Another suggestion from Stallwood was a table almost raw in its simplicity. It’s another example of thin and almost delicate-looking wood working together to create a solid, sturdy surface. “The look is contemporary and craft,” Stallwood explained, “working well in modern apartments. There is no stain, polish, or lacquer, just natural European oak.

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Interior Design In Nursing Homes Becoming More Dynamic And Colorful

Nursing homes, care homes, assisted living homes, wherever you’re from and whatever you call them, you probably have a certain idea about what they look like. They’re sterile, white-walled, smell musty, serve cafeteria food, and have tiny bedrooms with a hospital-like atmosphere. Or at least, that’s what they’ve traditionally been like. These days, however, there is change in the wind. UK writer Sue Learner, a news editor for, said, “Care homes,” as they’re known in the UK, “have undergone a transformation over the past couple of decades and a growing number are offering luxury interiors more similar to that of a hotel.”

Creating An Appealing Environment
These days nursing homes have realized there is competition even in their market, especially with the aging generation of baby boomers, and they’re upping their ante in order to stand out from the crowd. Jason Bloom, the national sales manager of a furnishing chain, said, “The care sector has many forward thinking and dynamic care operators who are certainly nothing like the old stereotyped images many people still have. . . . [They are] more aware of . . . the need for appealing and creative interior solutions.”

More Fabric Options
Bloom said form is becoming just as important as function. Recent studies have indicated the impact a positive environment can have on the mind and body. Technological advances have also improved the cleanability factor of furnishings and interior design. Care homes now have a wider selection of options for waterproof fabrics, stain repelling, and odor control.

An Active Area
An important factor to realize about nursing home residents is that not all of them are frail, bedridden, or comatose. Many of them still have social expectations, want places to relax, and also have the opportunity to be independent and even active.

Helping With Dementia
Bloom said that the very colors of a nursing home can help make a resident’s life easier, especially those with dementia. He explained, “Having dementia doesn’t mean loss of independence or quality of life; but confusion, disorientation and frustration can result . . . if residents are not accommodated.” To do this, some nursing homes will use color to help residents differentiate between different rooms and activities.

“Colors of fabrics help to easily define areas. Colors become cues to help residents distinguish between an activity, dining or living area, and even the toilet,” Bloom said.

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Interior Design For Men

Men are notoriously oblivious when it comes to interior design. Take a look into a bachelor’s pad or a married guy’s man cave and you’ll likely see a motley assortment of decorations, or none at all. In the Wall Street Journal, contributor Dale Hrabi said, “It’s assumed that they’re either indifferent . . . or energetically tasteless.” Case in point: the 2012 Man Cave of the Year, declared by, showcased such mismatched accessories as a suit of armor, a fire hydrant, and plastic toy cars.

Tariq Dixon, co-founder of Trnk of New York City, hopes to create a new style that a man’s man can get behind with interesting themes and masculine patterns. His company “explores broader notions of what the male living space can be,” which is another way of saying, guys who care even a little bit can get their space to “match” in a cool way.

Co-founders Tariq and Nick Nemecheck, both 27, started their business as an answer for men who are discouraged from exploring interior design by the feminine nature of design magazines. Men can be bewildered by the feminine look of bedrooms, kitchens, and living rooms, and the truth is, women are the targets of these magazines. Design writers don’t expect men to care about such topics. Dixon aims to change that assumption with his company’s designs, in which, he said, “you won’t see toile, tuffets, canopy beds, flora and fauna wallpaper, and other cliches of ladylike design.”

Instead of flowers and ruffles, expect to see a preponderance of distressed leather, midcentury modern furniture, geometric rugs, and one or two dead animals. To prove to guys that these styles are “cool” or “manly,” Trnk has created a “Stories” page which points to celebrities and other role models who incorporate similar color palettes and designs into their interior design. A major portion of the men featured are single, but a third are married, indicating that men can still make design decisions once they share their homes with a female companion.

A few trends users can expect to see include heritage design (with patriotic colors and American flags), cowhide rugs, vintage products, and globes. Dixon said, “We’ve visited about 30 homes already and half of them had globes” which he said is because “men often gravitate to decorative objects they can rationalize as functional.”

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Annual International Builders’ Show Finishing Up In Las Vegas

Each year, Las Vegas hosts the International Builders’ Show. This year, the event was paired with the Kitchen and Bath Industry show. With the improving housing market, the shows were even more popular than usual, attracting large crowds and 1,220 exhibitors which took up over 650,000 square feet of space. Consumer Reports market analysts attended the show and identified several of the hottest trends and products. Here are a few of them.

Quick In The kitchen
Kitchen duties can be time consuming, which is why manufacturers have come up with ways to speed up some of those tasks. For instance, the Viking Professional TurboChef Double Oven complete with French doors will be coming out late this year with the claim that it can cook food 15 times faster than normal ovens. Unfortunately it costs over $10,000. Instead, you might consider the Bosch Benchmark Steam Convection oven which is marketed at $3,000. It is also quicker at cooking and is promoted as being “a healthy compliment to your conventional oven, one that will preserve nutrients, flavors, and colors in food and retains moisture.”

Wi-Fi Control
It’s becoming easier than ever to create the quintessential smart home. Wi-fi control is ubiquitous, including everything from thermostats to home security. Your home’s generator can also be controlled remotely with the Generac’s Guardian System, which is also quiet and fuel-efficient. AT&T is also expanding its Digital Life service to more gadgets and gizmos than ever. Through it, you can monitor your lights, water valves, security systems, and cameras.

Gray Palettes
Kitchen colors will be going gray this year, according to the most recent Kitchen & Bath Style Reports. The Reports predicted, “[Gray] will be the fastest growing color scheme in the kitchen . . . [and] will also be number one in bathrooms, jumping from its third place finish in 2013.” At the show, gray was used in finishes, quartz countertops, slate countertops, and cabinets. Symbolically, gray was also a significant color at the event because of mentions of aging baby boomers and the impact they’re likely to have on the housing market.

Chief economist Jonathan Smoke of research firm Hanley Wood LLC said, “Buyers aged 55 years and older will account for 25 percent of the home-buying market this year. . . . And boomers will retire at a rate of 10,000 per day for the next 19 years.”

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Creating The Perfect Open Concept Floor Plan

At one time, people were content to live in segmented homes where each room performed a separate, distinct function. The kitchen was separate from the dining room, and the living room was separate from both of those. This tradition stemmed from early Victorian and Elizabethan days where fancy homes were made of parlors and studies and libraries all separated from each other.

These days, however, people have embraced open concept living and now everything is integrated. Sometimes, it seems the only areas that actually have walls are the bathrooms and the bedrooms. One of the biggest integrations is the “kitchen-diner” which allows for easy, sociable interaction between host and guest and easy serving of food straight from the stove to the plate. Formal dining rooms see less and less usage, mostly just holiday dinners, and then spend the rest of the year untouched.

Checking For Load-Bearing Walls

If you live in an older home and would like to implement the open concept design, do some fact checking before you start swinging the hammer. Some walls may seem insignificant, but they can be load bearing, and removing them can compromise the integrity of the entire structure. You might be able to tell the difference yourself by the way they sound.

British newspaper Nottingham Post explained, “Identifying a plasterboard stud wall is easy—it sounds hollow when you knock on it, but note that other walls can sound similar, so don’t take any chances.”

Enlist An Engineer

Only an engineer can tell you for sure if a wall is load bearing, so it’s best to enlist the help of one before embarking on any DIY home demolition. Structural walls can be removed, but you must insert a steel beam in their stead. A structural engineer can tell you what size you’ll need.

The Extra Projects

Also remember that removing a wall doesn’t mean you’re just taking down sheetrock and framing, there may also be ductwork, electrical wiring, and pipes to worry about. How will you rewire your home so you can still have enough electrical outlets? Is it possible to reroute your plumbing? Plus, you’ll need to patch over the area where the wall once stood with new flooring, or relace the surrounding flooring altogether if it’s damaged by wall removal.

So is removing that wall really worth it? It can be, according to the Nottingham Post. They admitted, “There’s no denying an open-plan dream can involve a lot of work and expense” but went on, “balanced against the space, light, and better, standard of living you’ll gain from it, it’s probably a challenge you’ll want to take on.”

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Choosing White Not As Simple As It Seems

White isn’t as simple as you might think. Popular as a generic color for walls and appliances, white is often seen as a simple, go-to color. Actually, there is a plethora of shades of white, each one complementing other colors in different ways. There are also different finishes for white, including sheer, gloss, high gloss, and matte. So how do you know which one to choose? Andrea Magno, a color and design expert with Benjamin Moore, said there are three main tips to follow.

Warm Whites And Cool Whites

White can be warm with the right cast. Warm pink and peach are good for making the white appear less stark. You can then pair the appropriate accessories with your warm white. Coral and yellow look good with this kind of white. You could also choose a warm gray, which when paired with both yellow and white creates one of the more popular color combos in interior design. A cool cast of blue or green might be a good choice for a bathroom or a room that gets really hot. Visual coolness can help trick the body into believing the temperature is cooler than it really is.

Finishing Your White

Second, Magno suggested homeowners do the following: “Try using whites with different finishes in one space. This can create an elegant and layered look.” For instance, Magno suggested using high gloss white for trim and doors, then using matte or eggshell finish on the walls. Even if you use the same color of white, then, there will be a distinction just perceptible to the eye. Stain finishes create a glowing appearance because it reflects light, both natural and artificial.

Consider Your Exterior

It might surprise you, but you should also consider the quality of light and vegetation outside your home. The colors that surround your home’s exterior will reflect in the white of your room. “Are there lots of trees and vegetation outside large windows, and will that color reflect onto the white of your walls?” Magno asked. “If so, select a white that will react well to the influence of green.” The same goes for a desert environment; choose a color that reflects browns well.

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3 Tips For Home Decor From A Design Pro

It’s no exaggeration to say Darren Palmer is an expert at interior design. Besides having years of experience as an interior designer, he also served as a judge on Australia’s home renovation show, “The Block.” Now he’s renovating his own home and he allowed reporters from the Australian newspaper Courier to come take a look at the “before” picture of his home. While they were there he let them in on his top rules for interior decoration and design.

Avoid “Safe” Design
He’s a big fan of taking chances, so you won’t see any staid, boring design combinations in his home. “People typically make a bunch of safe decisions,” he said. “The problem with safe interiors is they just don’t cut the mustard.”

Contrasting Elements
Viewers of his home will first be struck by his penchant for contrast. He has dark gray slab walls, similar smoky-colored furnishings, and white carpet. He also has tall windows which provide a lot of natural light and ties in the white to his furnishings with white throw pillows, a white matte for a large picture framed on the wall, and white accessories on his geometric bookshelves. Palmer explained his choices, saying, “Tie materials and textures into groups but you need to throwin in contrast against the walls in terms of color.”

Incorporate Personality
Palmer also stressed the need to incorporate your personality into the room. You can do this with artwork, sculptures, plant life, window treatments, and personal pictures. “All these things show your personality and reflect you in your own space,” he said. You won’t want visitors to think they’ve entered a showroom floor or a fancy hotel room when they walk around your home. Make sure anything you hang on your walls means something to you. Don’t just pick out artwork or decorations because they’re the “in” thing.

Be In Charge of Your Lighting
A third tip Palmer wanted to stress was the importance of lighting. It helps create the ambience you want and will highlight the important functions of a room. You can never go wrong with natural lights, but also look into accent lamps and pendant lighting to create the light and shadow you want in your home. It’s all about textures. Palmer added, “Don’t let your electrician be in control or you’ll have no ambience.”

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